The Capacity of Montreal Lake, Saskatchewan to Provide Safe Drinking Water: Applying a Framework for Analysis

Lebel, Pierre Mathieu; Reed, Maureen G.
September 2010
Canadian Water Resources Journal/Revue Canadienne des Ressources;Fall2010, Vol. 35 Issue 3, p317
Academic Journal
The long history of poor water quality plaguing First Nations communities in Canada has received little public attention in comparison to the waterborne disease outbreaks in Walkerton, Ontario in 2000 and North Battleford, Saskatchewan in 2001. In recent years, initiatives from the federal government and considerable financial support have improved the quality of drinking water on some reserves. However, the challenges First Nations communities face in the provision of safe drinking water remain, and certain systems continue to pose health risks. As a result, there is an emerging interest in the ability of First Nations communities to effectively manage their drinking water resources. The purpose of this paper is to establish an analytical framework for assessing the capacity of a First Nations community to provide safe drinking water and to apply the framework to a First Nations reserve community in north-central Saskatchewan (SK). Through multiple data sources, including individual interviews, a public workshop, documents and inspection reports, and water quality data, water system capacity was considered in terms of financial, human resources, institutional, social/political, and technical dimensions. It was determined that there are no serious deficiencies in the management of the community's drinking water. However, a few flaws in certain aspects of drinking water management were detected. These include weak linkages between the agencies responsible for drinking water provision, and a low level of drinking water safety for community residents served by the truck haul distribution system. This research confirms the multi-dimensional aspects of water system capacity, reveals the necessity for different levels of authority to work together, and provides an analytical framework which may be applicable to future studies examining First Nations and small-scale drinking water systems.


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